LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - John Isner almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory but survived to beat Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelman in a delayed second-round match at Wimbledon on Thursday.
The American ninth seed eventually won 6-1 6-4 6-7(3) 6-7(6) 7-5 but he came desperately close to another Wimbledon failure.
On Wednesday, he led two sets to love and held a match point in the third set but the 105th-ranked Bemelmans stormed back to win two tiebreaks and level the match before rain intervened.
On the resumption Bemelmans came close to a big shock when Isner served at 4-5 and trailed 15-40 but he saved both match points with booming aces, two of the 64 he sent down — the fourth highest total ever at Wimbledon.
Bemelmans tightened up at 4-5 and double-faulted on the way to being broken and Isner wrapped up victory, despite facing a break point, in the following game as he forced an error.
Isner now has the chance to record his best Wimbledon performance, having never been past the third round.
To achieve that he will have to get past Moldovan Radu Albot who beat Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in five sets. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)